Sunday 5th July 2009, at Bentleigh McKinnon Youth Centre.
For Tibetans, the morning began auspiciously, with light rain followed by sunshine. Appropriate too because it was a day combining several momentous events. The Birthday of one of the most respected figures of this era, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the launch of the Chinese Tibetan Friendship Association of Melbourne and as a huge thank you to all of the kind Australians for supporting and making the Tibetan Community so welcome here.
Around three hundred people came, including fifteen Chinese. There were many local Tibetan Sangha (monks and nuns), and important dignitaries. Mr T.P. Atisha, the Representative of HHDL in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, Ms Jenny Mikakos, and Colleen Hartland, both are the Honourable Upper House members of Parliament, and MP For Tibet. Mr Frank Ruanje, member of the Coalition of the Chinese Democratic Movement in Melbourne and the Chief Editor of Chinese language newspaper Tian An Mien Times. Plus members of Tibetan support groups, most prominently from the Australia Tibet Council.
To begin, Geshe Konchok Tsering lead the monks in the Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
“Tenzin Gyatso, protector of the Land of Snows,
live for a hundred aeons”
Kesang Wangmo (Secretary) and Sandup Tsering (Head) of the Tibetan Community of Victoria lead the proceedings.
Sandup spoke first with a huge welcome to all with an overview of the days events. He reminded us of the incredible achievements and capacity of the Dalai Lama. All of these qualities are but a drop in the ocean His Holiness is truly the ocean of Wisdom, how he so successfully guided the preservation of Tibetan culture outside Tibet, keeping it alive and of our great fortune to be born in the same time as he. Also reminding us of His Holiness’s words on the importance of human values. Finally, acknowledging deep gratitude to India for such vital safe haven in exile.
The day brimmed over with exciting and colourful performances of traditional song and dance by the Tibetan community of all ages. The costumes were vibrant and stunning. Performances some gentle and some wild, expressed the heart of the Tibetan people by being so natural and joyful overflowing with love, honesty and happiness. A feast for the eyes, ears and heart.
Jenny Mikakos MP, gave a warm thank you for being invited and the strong purpose she holds for building bridges and her involvement in the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet Group. Her dedication to human rights and in particular the Tibetan situation deeply touched the hearts of the Tibetan people.
Ms Mikakos also read a personal message from Victorian Premier John Brumby MP, where he best wishes to the Tibetan Community, going on to say I congratulate your community for hosting this auspicious celebration and for its initiative to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding in our community.
Mr T.P. Atisha, on behalf of His Holiness thanked all for the encouragement and particularly to the many support groups and all political parties in Australia who dedicate their time, money and effort It makes a big difference for the Tibetan people.
Then came the landmark launch of the Chinese Tibetan Friendship Association of Melbourne. The stage filled with the inaugural Chinese and Tibetan members, all proudly receiving khatas from Mr Atisha, holding raised hands in dedication to the union. The hall filled with the loudest applause that went on and on as each member accepted a khata. Faces beamed and hearts filled at what some may have thought impossibility, yet through real respect and true dialogue, the impossible happened.
More singing and dancing continued, as joyful friends united in celebration. There followed a feast of Tibetan vegetarian cuisine, and to top off a day everyone there would always remember was the cutting of the cake for His Holiness where Colleen Hartland MLC congratulated the Tibetan and Chinese communities and showed her support. The monks so reverently chanted a blessing and some of the best chocolate cake in Melbourne gave a burst of energy that resounded in dancing and fun until the sun came down.
Truly this is how a party should be. We have gained so much from our multicultural society and with event like this, there seems to be no limit to how good it can get.
Sandup Tsering, President, Melbourne Tibetan Community
& Mr Robert Perry of the Australia Tibet Council